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Ex-Green Bay player describes alleged abuse by coach

The SportsXchange

Former Wisconsin-Green Bay walk-on Ryan Bross discussed publicly for the first time on Tuesday the allegations of abuse made against men's basketball coach Brian Wardle while he was a member of the program.

In early April, the accusations first came to light in a letter written by the mother of another former Green Bay player, Brennan Cougill, that was obtained by the Green Bay Press-Gazette. In it, she described her son as being bullied and verbally abused by Wardle.

Bross went into more detail in his interview with the Press-Gazette, saying Wardle made him defecate on himself during a preseason boot camp, urged him to have sex in violation of his religious beliefs in order to make him a better player and used homophobic slurs.

Bross described feeling sick during a preseason drill and Wardle urging him to continue.

"Coach Wardle told me to stop being a ----- and to go into the woods," Bross said in the interview with the Press Gazette. "I came back (after having a bowel movement in the woods) and he was like, 'Are you all done? Are you OK? Are you done being a ----- now, Ryan?' because they thought I was faking it, but I wasn't.

"So I kept running the hills. I finished one hill. I came back down, and I told them I was not feeling well again, and he made me run another hill again because he told me that I was being a baby and that I was letting down the team and I was letting down myself, and that I was letting down everyone.

"I got down to the bottom (of the hill), and Wardle told me I was a piece of ---- and that he had never seen such a big ----- in his life and that I was the biggest piece of ---- he had ever seen."

Wardle denied the allegations in a statement issued Tuesday.

"I can assure you the well-being of my players is foremost in my mind at all times," he said. "I cannot comment on the specific allegations under federal privacy laws. I can say the version of events (the newspaper) reporting is inaccurate. I have fully cooperated with the Independent Investigator, as have our players and coaches. I fully expect the eyewitnesses to these allegations you are reporting will contradict the version you are reporting."

Green Bay forward Alec Brown said in an interview with local radio station WNFL that he had not seen such abuse and believed the two former players were lying.

"Honestly, I don't agree with the things that are being said," Brown told WNFL. "I've been there the longest of any of the guys, and I feel like if I had personally seen any of this happening, I wouldn't still be here. A lot of this stuff is not happening the way it seems that it is."

The school's investigation is expected to conclude this week and a report then will be filed.

"The allegations that came to the university were serious enough that we looked to hire an independent investigator to do a review," university spokesman Christopher Sampson said. "The fact that it has gotten national media attention -- that's a fallout of the Rutgers case. The two families and the players involved contacted the chancellor of the university, and he was obligated to respond right away. He said right away that it wasn't going to be the university but going to send it to the local attorney who is handling the investigation. That's what he did."

Unlike the Rutgers situation that led to the firing of former coach Mike Rice for verbal and physical abuse of players, no videotapes of Green Bay practices exist, according to Sampson.

Four players, including Bross and Cougill, have left the program for various reasons since the beginning of the year.
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